Monday, March 21, 2011

Broadcasting in the Land of the Queen of Sheba, Part 2

The Lightning & No Wire Company!
In our program last week, we presented the information about the radio scene in Aden, Yemen, with its early mediumwave stations; and the usage of the C&W, Cable & Wireless, communication
station ZNR for the occasional broadcast of shortwave radio programming. We also mentioned that Yemen was the home of the legendary Queen of Sheba, who as a new young queen, visited the fabled King Solomon in Palestine. Her home was the now archaeological city of Marib, in the desert areas of Yemen. We pick up the story again today with this information regarding shortwave broadcasting in the southern Yemen, known at the time as Aden.
An official government radio station was inaugurated at Al-Hiswa in Aden on August 7, 1954. Initially this was a double facility with a shortwave transmitter rated at 3½ kW, and a 300 watt mediumwave transmitter.
Three years later a 7½ kW shortwave unit was installed, followed by a 10 kW unit eight years later again. During the year 1973, two shortwave transmitters at 100 kW were installed. In September 2005, this station was badly damaged in an air raid, leaving just one mediumwave unit active on the air.
After the two Yemens were combined, the Al-Hiswah shortwave facility near Aden remained in active use until 1995, when it went silent for a period of about eight years. However, it was re-activated again in 2003 and it is still on the air to this day with two transmitters, one at 50 kW and the other at 100 kW.
On the mediumwave scene, two regional stations were inaugurated in southern Yemen, at Al-Mukalla in 1967 & Sayun in 1973. These days though, there are just two major locations on the air mediumwave in southern Yemen, Aden, and these are:-
Al Hiswah 100 kW 792 kHz
100 1188
Al Mukalla 50 785

We now go a little north, from Aden Yemen to Sana’a Yemen, and we go back to the beginning of radio broadcasting in that segment of the now united country. The first radio station at Sana’a was established in January 1946, though it is not known whether this was a mediumwave or shortwave facility.
Due to similar circumstances elsewhere in the region, we would guess that this new radio station was a comparatively low powered shortwave unit, operating probably on what we would call a tropical shortwave channel. A couple of years later, this station in Sana’a was closed, though some seven years later again, it was re-opened.
During the 1960s, two regional mediumwave stations were opened in North Yemen and these low power units were co-sited with already existing communication stations. In 1963, one of these regional mediumwave stations was co-sited with communication station 4WA at Taiz; and in 1969, the other was co-sited with communication station 4WD at Al-Hodeida.
The main shortwave station at Sana’a was inaugurated in 1950 with a 25 kW General Electric transmitter from the United States. However, at this stage, the C&W station at Sana’a was also in use for the occasional relay of radio programming, on both mediumwave & shortwave. The company name for C&W is Cable & Wireless. This is a difficult name to translate into Arabic, and when the name is translated back into English, it would read, “The Lightning & No Cable Company”.
During the year 1973, two 50 kW Siemens shortwave transmitters were installed at Sana’a and soon afterwards, these were noted on air by international radio monitors in Australia & New Zealand. Channels in use at this stage were 6050 kHz & 9585 kHz. A 300 kW Thomson shortwave transmitter was installed in 1988.
These days north Yemen, as part of the united country of Yemen, is noted on only one shortwave channel, 9780 kHz with 50 kW. On mediumwave, eight different channels are listed at four different locations.
QSLs over the years from the two Yemens have been very difficult to obtain. From southern Yemen, Aden, we note the following QSLs:-

1962 BFBS Mediumwave
1974 Steamer Point 50 kW 755 Pink antenna card
1981 Communication station 3 kW 5208 kHz Jose Jacob, India

And from northern Yemen, Sana’a, we note these QSLs:-
1987 Sanaa’a shortwave 50 kW 9780 kHz Letter
1998 Sana’a & Mocha Mediumwave Letter
2001 Sana’a 4953 & 9780 kHz Colored card

(AWR Wavescan/NSW 108 via Adrian Peterson)